Friday, April 10, 2015

Bothered by Bonhoeffer

Originally posted on Facebook (April 22, 2010). 

Joseph Loconte's review of Eric Metaxas' new Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography appears in today's Wall Street Journal, and it got under my skin.

I so much respect Bonhoeffer's devout orthodoxy and passionate commitment to living out the Gospel, heedless of the world's conventions and compromises. His embodiment of radical grace and costly discipleship is tremendously challenging and certainly deserves greater attention and imitation, particularly today.

But the assassination plot: I can't get past the assassination plot. I know I can't judge Bonhoeffer's decision to be party to a plan to kill Hitler—I wasn't there in wartime Germany when Jews and others were being exterminated by the hundreds of thousands.

Still, we rightly condemn those who today turn to violence in the name of protecting the unborn, and so the question arises: What's the difference?

Can we ever countenance intentional killing, even of someone like Hitler? Was Bonhoeffer simply wrong?